We may gather from this that rich people arrive in heaven just as much as poor people do, one as easily as the other. The reason people believe that it is easy for the poor and hard for the rich is that the Word is misunderstood when it talks about the rich and the poor. In the spiritual meaning of the Word, “the rich” means people who are amply supplied with understandings of what is true and good, that is, people in the church where the Word is. “The poor” means people who lack these understandings but who long for them, or people outside the church, where the Word is not found.
The rich person dressed in purple and fine linen who was cast into hell means the Jewish nation. Because they had the Word and were therefore amply supplied with understandings of what is good and true, they are called “rich.” The garments of purple actually mean understandings of what is good, and the fine linen means understandings of what is true. The poor person who was lying in the gateway and who longed to feast on the crumbs that were falling from the rich person’s table, who was carried up into heaven by angels, means the non-Jews who did not have understandings of what is good and true but who still longed for them (Luke 16:19, 31).
The rich who were invited to the great feast but who excused themselves also mean the Jewish nation, and the poor who were brought in to replace them mean the non-Jews who were outside the church (Luke 12:16–24 [14:16–24]).
We need also to explain who are meant by the rich of whom the Lord said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24). “The rich person” here means the rich in both senses, natural and spiritual. Rich people in the natural sense are people who have abundant wealth and set their hearts on it, while in a spiritual sense they are people who are amply supplied with insights and knowledge (for these are spiritual wealth) and who want to use them to get themselves into heavenly and ecclesiastical circles by their own intellect. Since this is contrary to the divine design, it says that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. On this level of meaning, a camel means our cognitive and informational level in general, and the eye of a needle means spiritual truth.
Nowadays people do not know that this is the meaning of the camel and the eye of a needle because there has not yet been any access to the knowledge that teaches what is meant spiritually by the things that the Word says literally. There is spiritual meaning in the details of the Word, and natural meaning as well; because the Word was written in pure correspondences of natural realities with spiritual ones in order to effect a union of heaven and the world, or of angels with us, once the direct union had ceased. We can see from this exactly who are meant by the rich in the Word.
We may gather from a number of passages that on the spiritual level “the rich” in the Word refers to people who enjoy insights into what is good and true and that wealth means those insights themselves, which are spiritual riches: see Isaiah 10:12, 13, 14; 30:6, 7; 45:3; Jeremiah 17:3; 47:7 [48:7]; 50:36–37; 51:13; Daniel 5:2–4; Ezekiel 26:7, 12; 27:1–36; Zechariah 9:3–4; Psalms 45:12;229 Hosea 12:9; Revelation 3:17–18; Luke 14:33; and elsewhere. On the poor in the spiritual sense as people who do not have insights into what is good and true but who long for them, see Matthew 11:5; Luke 6:20–21; 14:21; Isaiah 14:30; 29:19; 41:17–18; Zephaniah 3:12, 18 . An explanation of the spiritual meaning of all these passages may be found in §10227 of Secrets of Heaven.
from Heaven and Hell, Section 365